Susan and Roxi find that a baby in their bed makes for sleepless parents.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that all humans learn to sit, walk
and talk. We catch ourselves believing that Finn is gifted. Every
point-of-the-finger, wave, clap, syllable and step seems like
definitive evidence that the child is a genius!
He has learnt so much in these past 11 months that we sometimes
forget that all babies do. The only thing he's failed to master is
sleeping through the night. I recently shared this fact with a friend
whose baby is similar in age to Finn. 'Mine neither,' she sighed. 'But
she sleeps in the bed with me so at least I don't have to get up.' She
shook her head sympathetically as she mused, 'Getting up to get your
baby from the bedroom next door to feed and rock him back to sleep in
the middle of the cold winter night must be just awful.' And she's
There was a time that Finn slept in our bed, until about 4 months old
when we popped him into his own cot and finally got 6 hours
uninterrupted sleep. But that was before the teething and the
separation anxiety. Since about 9 months Finn has roughly been
squawking at 11pm and then again at 3am before springing up at 6am to
welcome the new day.
A couple of days after our co-sleeping conversation, I stumbled across
a magazine article that mentioned that the incidence of cot death in
Africa and Asia is nearly zero because of the fact that most babies
sleep in the 'marital' bed. The theory was that when left alone to
sleep in a separate cot, babies who are at risk of cot death, due to a
chemical imbalance, were likely to go into too deep a sleep. The
universe seemed to be trying to tell me something. I decided to look
through one of my baby manuals referred to in times of new parent panic
– Sister Lilian's Babycare Companion. It appears that Sister Lilian is
a strong advocate of the entire family sleeping in the same bed and
suggests getting as big a bed as possible to fit in as many children,
pets and spouses as you can. Clearly co-sleeping is the only thing a
good parent can do.
I presented my decision to Roxi that night. 'I think we should let Finn
sleep with us,' I announced. We were eating supper at the time and I
broke the news after she'd just scooped a healthy portion of pasta into
her mouth. She stopped chewing, swung round to glare at me with full
cheeks and eyes that said, 'Are you insane?'
But my argument that we'd get more sleep won her over.
That night when Finn squawked at 11pm I hopped cheerily out of bed to
gather him up to my bosom before gently nestling him between his two
mommies. It took me a while to fall asleep, partly because I discovered
our young son has developed a bit of a snore. But eventually, happy in
my newfound role of good mom, I fell asleep. Only to be woken up about
16 minutes later with him rolling onto his side and nudging me closer
to the edge of the bed. Just as I was about to fall back to sleep I
accidentally rolled onto my stomach waking him up. At 3am he woke as
usual for a bottle and quickly went back to sleep. I lay awake
listening to him breathing while simultaneously clutching onto the edge
of the mattress. When he started whacking my head at 6am with whoops of
delight I found that I was lying with my head on the bedside pedestal
and only a small portion of my body left on the bed. I looked over at
Roxi who was lying with puffy blood-shot eyes she was battling to open.
She glared at me without saying a word.
Later that day I sent her an email. It read: 'Co-sleeping sucks.' She
replied: 'I couldn't agree more.' And so we are sticking with our
routine of getting up in the middle of the cold dark winter nights, if
only so that when we are in bed we manage to get a little bit of
precious uninterrupted restorative sleep.